Jun 29, 2009

School Library Journal Review

Another review has come in... it's always nerve-wracking to get these from your publisher but so far so good...

July 2009 issue of School Library Journal

WHITNEY, Kim Ablon. The Other Half of Life. 256p. bibliog. chron. CIP. Knopf/Borzoi. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85219-0; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95219-7. LC 2008038949.

Gr 6-8–Based on the story of the MS St. Louis in 1939, the journey of the fictional Nazi luxury liner MS St. Francis from Germany to Cuba and the United States creates the dramatic underpinning for this story. Focusing on 15-year-old Thomas Werkmann and 14-year-old Priska Affeldt, Whitney chronicles what happened to more than 900 Jews seeking refuge from growing anti-Semitism in Germany. Thomas is traveling alone. His father, who is Jewish, is in Dachau, and his mother, a Christian, could raise the money for only one passage. A strong friendship develops between the wary boy and optimistic Priska, who is traveling with her family. Whitney integrates, sometimes in an overly journalistic tone, information about oppression in Germany, but readers’ attention is held by the young passengers’ playful pranks, the developing romance between the two main characters, and tension between the passengers and the Nazi crew. Chess becomes significant to the story, possibly leaving some readers at a loss. The dramatic tone is sometimes too subdued, especially when the passengers are forced to make the return trans-Atlantic journey after being turned away from Cuba and the United States. In spite of these shortcomings, this story will hold readers’ interest and heighten awareness of history that could become forgotten. The author imparts the fates of the passengers in the last two chapters, one set 10 years after the ship returns to Europe and the other 70 years after. A chronology of German anti-Semitic legislation is appended.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Jun 24, 2009

Tower of Books Guest Blog

Check out my guest blog on Tower of Books and also a review there too!


Jun 21, 2009

Washington Post Cartoonist Art Spiegelman recounts St. Louis voyage

Here is a link to a very interesting cartoon by Art Spiegelman on the 70th anniversary of the passengers disembarking the ship back in Europe. I found it fascinating to see the 1939 cartoons and Mr. Spiegelman's comments on them through today's perspective.


Jun 16, 2009

Ellen Steinbaum's site

The recession/digital era has taken its toll on print media and one of the casualties was Ellen Steinbaum's 'City Type' column in the Sunday Boston Globe. With less and less book coverage in print media, I really miss this column! Ellen is continuing it in a different form on her website, introducing local authors and books. She was kind enough to feature The Other Half of Life:


Jun 15, 2009

Review and a mention

The Other Half of Life got a nice review on Enchanting Reviews....

It also got a nice mention Stephen Dann's chess column of the Worcester Telegram this past Sunday.

Jun 5, 2009

Jewish Book Council "Meet the Authors"

I recently returned from the Jewish Book Council Conference "Meet the Authors" event in New York City. What a blast! The MTA event happens over three nights--each night 60 authors who either are Jewish or have a book with a Jewish theme (or a combo) give two-minute pitches about their books and presentations to program directors.

It's kind of like American Idol meets Speed Dating.

By virtue of my lovely married name, I had the priveledge of going dead last on my night. (In a shout-out to all my horse friends, it was kind of like going last at the Medal or Maclay Finals.)

All I can say is thank god Jews are funny! I laughed out loud many times during the event and the two plus hours of pitching went by pretty fast. Being married to a WASP, I can only imagine how deadly this event would have been if it had been the Protestant Book Council.

More than anything I came away from the event overwhelmed and impressed by how many amazing books and authors there are out there. Here are a few in particular that caught my eye:

Andrew Blauner, BROTHERS
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, MY LITTLE RED BOOK
Steve Luxenberg, ANNIE'S GHOSTS